Team Jayco AlUla dominated the 2023 Australian Criterium Championships today as Amber Pate and Kell O’Brien stormed to two stunning victories in Ballarat.
New signing Pate made it a dream start to life in Team Jayco AlUla colours as she took the victory ahead of teammate Alex Manly, while O’Brien finished of an imperious team performance to take the gold medal in the men’s race in front of teammate and debutant Blake Quick.
Pate produced a powerful sprint to take home the title after following a late race attack inside the final three laps. With her teammates controlling the peloton in anticipation of a bunch sprint, Pate took her chance out of the last corner, jumping away from her fellow attacker and holding on to take the special win.
Meanwhile Manly proved to be the fastest in the charging bunch behind, as she raced across the line to take second place and make it a stunning one-two finish for the Australian squad.
Shortly after, the men’s team also went for an aggressive approach as they forced an early breakaway of nine that would eventually stay away to contest the win. Callum Scotson put in a ‘man of the match’ ride to drive the escapees further clear of the peloton, before swinging off and leaving it to O’Brien and Quick on the final lap.
O’Brien looked to lead-out his fast-finishing teammate, but his blistering speed was enough to carry him across the line and to the Criterium title, giving Team Jayco AlUla their second one-two finish of the day.
“That’s a really big surprise! The team really stuck to the plan, which wasn’t for me, but we stuck to it to make the race aggressive. I feel so privileged to be a part of this team and I was working hard for my teammates.
At the end Tilly [Field] did a good attack and I was following just to make sure it came down to a sprint for my teammates behind. I came around the final corner and I was like ‘oh we’ve got a gap’ and I just had to make the decision there. If I was to drop back and help with the lead-out, I wouldn’t have been able to assist, so I gave it my best there and trusted that if my teammates caught us, they could also bring it home.
I worked hard in the first part of the race, and I was quite tired, but in the last lap when we came around the final corner and I glanced back, there was a good gap, and I thought ‘let’s give it all I’ve got.”
“I can’t believe it! Hats off to Callum Scotson out there, he was an absolute motorbike today. We executed a good race together and I really wasn’t expecting to hang on to the finish line, but with a tailwind sprint, I opened up from the last corner and somehow found the legs.
We wanted a good hard race, a lot of us wanted to open the legs up ahead of Sunday. We were backing Blake Quick and he did everything right to get into the move with Callum and I. In the end I am just so proud of our ride, to be in the Jayco AlUla colours and win and with these amazing crowds in Ballarat. I have had good days and bad days racing here in Ballarat, today was a good day so I am going to enjoy it then wake up tomorrow and set my eyes on Sunday’s road race.”
2023 Elite Women’s Australian Criterium Championships – Results:
1. Amber Pate (Team Jayco AlUla) 59:25
2. Alex Manly (Team Jayco AlUla)
3. Matilda Field
2023 Elite Men’s Australian Criterium Championships – Results:
1. Kelland O’Brien (Team Jayco AlUla) 58:26
2. Blake Quick (Team Jayco AlUla)
3. Taj Jones
Photo: Con Chronis/AusCycling